Sunday, July 28, 2013

Another Message from The Hand

In the name of the most merciful who has bestowed upon you the ever-presence of The Hand:

Since we last communicated there have been certain notable developments in the country, so The Hand has deemed it appropriate to provide all you lesser beings with a brief assessment from The Hand's omnipotent vantage point at Minipax:
  1. Mass showings of solidarity in the streets have been suitable, but next time there will be less tolerance for those grumbling of missed beach time.
  2. Undulations to The Hand's greatness need improvement. Still lacking a uniquely catchy tune. Brava to Ghada El Sherif; this is the kind of incisive coverage The Hand is looking for. 
  3. To you die-hard supporters of the deposed, stop being so stubborn. The Hand can and will out-God and out-gun you, but really, what are we fighting for? You know and The Hand knows that the so-called "liberal" wussies have been rendered impotent by their fickleness and fear. Get back to your core competency of controlling culture, knowing, naturally, that the rest is for The Hand, and only The Hand, to handle.
  4. To you Christian people, just a gentle reminder less you get too carried away...
  5. Finally, to you Mr. Obamaاتنيل بنيلة. Of course, that means The Hand is fully committed to a democratic transition, respectful of tolerance and universal human rights, et cetera et cetera. Funding and our strategic partnership will be keenly protected. See you soon at Tysons.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So Long to Flower Power

The time that never was
Egypt's sixties moment is over. In yet another sign of how it all went so wrong, the same "revolutionary" minions who recklessly promised the moon to Egyptians back in those heady days of Tahrir circa January 2011, are now whole-heartedly supporting the strike back of the empire in its most unfettered and vicious form. Insipid war songs, feigning praises for the military command, over-hyped nationalism and even more over-charged xenophobia not only are now commonplace, but are encouraged by the headless "political forces" and their phantom liberal backers. Egyptians have been misled into incongruously subscribing to a belief of having their interests aligned with self-interested generals, then pinning hopes on dyed-and-stained Islamist retrogrades, then back again, all the while desperately seeking for anything other than total chaos. Whether this ends in a full-fledged military takeover or not is beside the point -- Egypt already is a military state. And sadly, this may not be the worst option any longer for a country where religious tyrants have been let loose, yes moderated by short-term opportunism, but always wedded to a fundamentally anti-modern set of ideals.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ahly, Zamalek, Boredom

A faintly familiar game played in Gouna
Unsatisfied with domineering political life, centralizing the economy and  straight jacketing religious and social norms, the vampires have sunk their teeth deeper into one of the last bastions of free expression in Egypt, the rivalry between Zamalek and Ahly. The African Champions League match-up between the two (no local competition face offs being any longer possible, thanks to the idiotic decision to cancel the league and cup) was played in circumstances that can be charitably described as intentionally horrendous. Unpaid players who have not faced a competitive match in months were commandeered to run around in broiling temperatures at a wind swept field on the Red Sea in the middle of the fasting month of Ramadan. 

The game itself was a predictably terrible stalemate, lacking in every facet. The only people leaving happy were the authorities congratulating themselves for the wondrous achievement of staging a football match for ninety minutes, complete with twenty-two players in neat uniforms and even some fans with waving flags who braved the uncertainty of whether they would be allowed to attend.

Another victory for dulling unity, another loss for Egypt. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Egypt's Unfantastic Economic Policy

Dr. Doom looms
Based on early indications, the vision of the economic "Fantastic Four" in Egypt's new cabinet is no better than that of predecessor governments. Their priorities lie squarely on finding scotch-taped solutions to an economy that instead requires radical structural change

Subsidizing bread instead of flour (inviting further state intrusions), centralized targeting of commodity levels (might work in the military, does not work in a market economy), seeking out billions in aid and concessionary loans to finance an unsustainable and distorted fuel market (which will not be made any more sustainable by cracking down on smuggling), setting a national minimum wage (which won't be enforced and anyway fails to address chronic unemployment and underemployment) and promising to support domestic industry by simply providing better physical security (as opposed to a streamlined bureaucracy, functioning infrastructure and non-corrupted legal and business environment), will not cut it. The politicized decision to put the IMF loan package on the back burner furthers the sense that this government has no real economic agenda

Merely not being the Muslim Brotherhood is not an economic policy. Fantastic and revolutionary this is not.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Coptic Quota

Symbolic harmony
New cabinet announced. All-important Ministers of Environment and Scientific Research again Copts (plus consolation prize of the weakest of the economic ministries). 

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Message from The Hand

In the name of the most merciful whatever you happen to believe in, provided, in primus, such belief neither conflicts with nor otherwise diminishes the superiority of The Hand:

We hail your perseverance in crushing the vast conspiracy of the American-Zionist enemy against our great nation. We hail the return of the "real Egypt" to which we devote ourselves; the Egypt of staged democratic stability, privileged economic dynamism and comfortably hypocritical cultural conformity; the Egypt where The Hand always is slapping on your golden faces.

To the disappointed believers of the fascist regime of the past, in the spirit of togetherness and forgiveness The Hand offers you the unfettered ability to spread your religious bigotry, without, of course, upsetting the "civic nature" of the loving state. To our once excited, then frightened, and now again excited "revolutionaries", we hereby promise to maintain the veneer of independent media and to keep open at all times at least one of Tamerai and La Bodega, so as to provide you with the calming illusion of living in a progressive country, subject only to occasional closures or threats of closure to remind of the superiority of The Hand. To our Christian brothers and sisters, The Hand offers you a happy life wherein your existence will be tolerated, with only the minor inconveniences that will necessarily arise from time to time to underline the presence of The Hand. And to the rest of the blessed proles of this wonderful land, The Hand offers you the privilege of subsistence amounts of water, electricity, diesel and bread, with the gentle reminder that such privileges can and will be revoked when and where The Hand, in its eternal wisdom, deems necessary.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Now what to do with Egypt?

No love
After seeing one of its purported headline foreign policy achievements implode and instead become a lightening rod for criticisms that go far and wide (very far, and very wide in the case of conspiracy-loving Egyptians), the Administration may be tempted to simply give up on Egypt. That temptation must be resisted. The United States has massive influence in, and must stay engaged with, Egypt. In doing so, it should be guided by a few insurmountable principles that are too often overlooked:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Obama's Egypt Disaster

Strained alliance
The Obama Administration did not cause the mess in Egypt over the past two and a half years, but it has nonetheless made a mess out of U.S. policy in the country. Born out of an ill-considered gamble on populist foreign policy, followed by a fateful approach to retrograde Islamists, then ultimately damned by an unimaginativetepid and defeatist positioning of American influence in the region, the Administration has failed miserably. While U.S. perseverance may have helped Egypt's hopelessly inept leaders avoid a total train-wreck, Obama never should have supported the "revolution" (speaking of coups...) against Mubarak in the first instance, and never should have aligned the United States with political Islam. Once the Administration did do these things, however, it managed to make matters insurmountably worse by not using U.S. influence to drive the fundamental change that Egypt desperately needs to its body politic, economy and society at large.  


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Egyptian Monopoly Continued

With Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others lined up to flood a post-Brotherhood Egypt with billions of dollars (that will never be repaid), substituting for the billions of Brotherhood-era dollars from Qatar, Turkey and Libya (that will never be repaid), plus the billions of U.S., European and international funds that continue to roll in whomever is in power (that too will never be repaid), perhaps Egypt is on to something. Every couple of years scare the world shitless with mass mayhem, then sit back and add up the mula. 

Revolutionary Pounds

Monday, July 1, 2013

Egypt in a Global Perspective

The world's view of Egypt according to Egyptians:
  • "Tens of millions of peaceful citizens on streets bravely championing a democratic revolution over scary bearded people" 
  • "White House, European Commission, Qatar scheming 23 hours per day on grand strategies in Egypt; all other foreign and domestic policy issues deemed irrelevant"
  • "Every man, woman and child over the age of three passionately following latest conspiracy intrigue offered by Tawfiq Okasha"
And in other news, tragic death of firefighters in historic heat in Arizona, revelations of mass wiretapping continue, commodity prices in state of collapse, Brazil crush Spain in World Cup warm up, Mika to judge Italian version of X-Factor